Unity, progress and a bright futureBy Charlene Muhammad and Nisa Islam Muhammad Final Call Staffers | Last updated: Feb 27, 2013 - 1:20:35 AM
Powerful ideas focused on economics, independence touch listeners
CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) - Thousands of people, some from different ethnicities and different religious, political, social and economic backgrounds traveled from near and far in heavy anticipation of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s keynote address, “Muhammad’s Economic Blueprint: Ending Poverty and Want delivered at the close of the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day convention.
People from as far away as London and the Caribbean for the convention, Feb. 22-24, and honors the births of Wallace Fard Muhammad, the N.O.I.’s founder, and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the eternal leader of the Nation of Islam.
“We bear witness that 136 years ago, a saviour was born, a living God. Oh, Master Fard Muhammad is alive and well,” declared Student Minister Nuri Muhammad of Mosque No. 74 in Indianapolis.
Before Minister Farrakhan even approached the stage Feb. 24, the energy inside the UIC Pavilion was electric.
Minister Abdul Akbar Muhammad, international representative of Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, emphasized the impact of the Minister’s work throughout the world. Min. Farrakhan has been received as a head of state in more than 36 nations and has opened doors for Blacks in America through efforts at home and abroad, such as the historic 1995 Million Man March and tours of Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean.
“He has rocked the entire world. He’s impacted every aspect of Black life in America ... The world is open for the Nation of Islam and now we must step into that world. We cannot hesitate! Time is not on our side,” declared Min. Akbar Muhammad.
Student Minister Jeffrey Muhammad facilitated the program leading up to Min. Farrakhan’s address. Guests in the UIC Pavilion burst into a standing ovation when he introduced Minister Emeritus Lucius Bey, a longtime follower of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Min. Bey marked his 100th birthday Feb. 24.
“It’s on his shoulders, their sacrifice, the ’30s and the ’40s when it wasn’t popular to be called Muhammad. They stood strong that many of us have those names right now that don’t know what it means,” Jeffrey Muhammad said. He also lifted up the work of pioneer Minister Emeritus Abdul Rahman Muhammad of Atlanta and acknowledged other pioneers and dignitaries seated on the dais.
Rev. Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., gave opening remarks before the Minister spoke, and thought the message of unity was very timely. “Obviously, of course, we have some behavior problems we have to address and then get on with this economic blueprint. I think it was powerful,” Rev. Wilson said.
Jalil Muhammad, who represents the Nation of Islam to youth and college students, listened for a life preserver.
“The Minister’s message registers significantly among young people. As the Minister pointed out, they are a population most in despair all over the world. They are in a state of despair because they are poor. They are in a state of despair because they are educated but they are not able to put their education and intellect to use because there are no jobs. There is no industry,” he stated.
Fredrica Bey, executive director of Newark’s Women in Support of the Million Man March from New Jersey, has been to decades of Saviours’ Days but this one was extra special. The Minister’s speech was the crowning glory of the weekend and the international relationships he’s building in the Caribbean, Europe and throughout the world were great to see and feel, she told The Final Call.
Ms. Bey added, “The Minister, today, hit home nationally but he had to touch you personally. He really did when he talked about the distribution of wealth starting with the first cell of the body. It was just awesome and then to end it at the beautiful Salaam, back in the day we would come to the Salaam, it’s been overwhelming.” She was referring to dinner at the Salaam restaurant, the Nation of Islam’s $5 million facility on the South Side.
This year marked Attorney Louis Myers’ 40th year with Min. Farrakhan. “I’ve been around a lot of Saviours’ Days. He’s kept the faith and run the race for us and I’m glad to know that we’re back full scene on the economic plan. Our brother is revitalizing the plan. We’ve got to put new energy into it because that’s the only way we’ve got to go. That was brilliant,” Atty. Meyers emphasized.
Saviours’ Day, dubbed the “crowing event of Black History Month, is the highlight of the year for many. Others, like Sirlena Smith of Atlantic City, N.J., had never been to Saviours’ Day and didn’t know what to expect.
She took a flight from New York because she was impressed with the Nation of Islam and everything Minister Farrakhan has done in Chicago. She was very pleased with the weekend of activities.
Festivities were largely held at the Hilton on Michigan Ave, but Minister Farrakhan also hosted dinner guests and some followers at the Salaam restaurant and at National Center, the Nation’s headquarters.
First Lady Khadijah Farrakhan’s Children’s Village was the centerpiece of fun and excitement for young Muslims and other children. Workshop panelists gave guidance on topics such as building strong marriages for a stronger community, to prolonging life through the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s How To Eat To Live dietary program, and effective ways to combat cancer and heal. Social events included a comedy show, a dance, and a youth talent show, which Ms. Smith attended.
She vowed to return to Saviours’ Day. “Even though I’m a Baptist, I listen to (Min. Farrakhan’s) tapes and everything ... and he touches my heart,” she said. Min. Farrakhan’s message on ending poverty is something she’s been thinking about.
“Yes! We need to separate. Yes! We need our own. And whatever the Minister wants, I am willing to do. I’m willing to pass the message on as best as I can because, you know, the Minister is so wonderful and his words are so true,” Ms. Smith told The Final Call.
Marecia Baltimore traveled from New York with her daughter, Shadé. She also attended Saviours’ Day 2011. “I missed last year but I am a vigilant and very aggressive follower of the Minister Louis Farrakhan and this is nothing new to me ... This was well needed, right on time and I’m just waiting to see what’s next so I can jump on board,” she stated.
Min. Farrakhan’s message on managing money resonated with Shadé, who has difficulty holding on to her allowance. “That kind of gave me that push to try to save more money, especially since I’m graduating next year. I need to save money and get to college,” she said.
Ms. Baltimore feels unity among Blacks stems from a lack of respect. But, gaining an understanding of different agendas and respecting differing opinions would reverse the problem, she said.
The mother considers herself spiritual and subscribes to no particular faith. She was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist but not in a strict way. “Just having that foundation, it brings out the spirituality that kind of teaches you to look for the truth in everything and in anything and I think that’s what kind of drew me to the Minister. Because you hear the truth and you can’t deny it,” she said.
(Ebony S. Muhammad contributed to this report.)